F.O.R.E Foundation for Arts Science and Education is supporting Young Audiences Inc., to increase academic achievement and affordable educational options for young people, ensuring the role of the arts and sciences as a cornerstone of society
Learning in and through the arts provides students the opportunity to construct new meaning through the use of visual, dramatic, musical, and media arts while developing specific skills gained through instruction in these art forms. While the arts are subjects that stand alone and are important in their own right, the arts also enhances deeper understanding of all educational content areas that require higher levels of motivation, comprehension, and meta-cognitive strategies. Many assert that studying the arts from an early age stimulates children’s creativity; enhances their problem-solving abilities; encourages self-discipline; and leads to a unique understanding of how to interact with other human beings and other cultures.
Unfortunately, most classroom teachers and arts specialists do not have the expertise or experience to develop and implement an arts-integrated curriculum. The time needed is not built into the school day and the post-secondary level does not require it. Students who attend under-performing schools continue to receive far less of the integrated learning strategies in arts, literacy, and mathematics that they need to prepare for success in high school, college, and careers.
In order to combat this problem that is affecting students across the United States of America the F.O.R.E Foundation for Arts Science and Education is supporting Young Audiences, Inc., to increase academic achievement and affordable educational options for young people, ensuring the role of the arts and sciences as a cornerstone of society.
In order to adequately prepare teachers and schools to address the diverse learning needs of today’s student population, Young Audiences Inc. has invested significant resources in order to expand arts-integrated learning opportunities and professional development for teachers, certified arts specialists, and teaching artists across the country, especially in low-income communities and the school districts they serve.
For more than a decade, Young Audiences has focused on the development, evaluation, and expansion of a national initiative called Arts for Learning - an innovative, arts based literacy curriculum that marries the creativity of the arts with the traditional curricula in order to raise student achievement in reading and writing. With major support from partners such as the F.O.R.E Foundation, Young Audiences has implemented curriculums in some 20 Young Audiences affiliates and has proven to raise student achievement in reading, writing, and math, while supporting the development of key 21st century learning and life skills.
All teachers and teaching artists at Young Audiences Charter School (YACS) are hired and trained to implement the program and have secured their positions overall for their ability to implement the arts into their curriculum. Support from the F.O.R.E Foundation will enable an expansion of this program and allow all students to receive instruction and the necessary accommodations that some students may need regardless of learning ability or language spoken, participate in additional Arts for Learning Curriculums.
F.O.R.E Foundation understands that the presence of the arts in itself does not contribute to educational growth, but the careful and deliberate use of the arts and the artistic process when designed to meet individual needs of both students and teachers can have a profound impact. That is why the foundation is increasing their contributions to Young Audiences.
The Learning Units supported by the F.O.R.E Foundation are designed around curricular guidelines:
Everyday Heroes (9 Lessons)
The visual art and literacy genres of graphic stories ignite students’ imaginations and motivation to read and write. Students use the strategy of visualization and apply their understanding of story elements to comprehend text and create their own graphic adventure stories.
Planting A Community (14 Lessons)
To engage students in the reading strategies of determining importance and synthesizing in nonfiction texts and to think deeply about what they learn through the visual art technique of collage.
Words In Motion (16 Lessons)
Students read like detectives, asking questions and looking for clues about what characters are thinking, feeling and doing. As they read, students compose music that represents those investigations in order to gain a deeper understanding of the characters and how they relate to the central theme of the story.
Authors and Actors (19 Lessons)
To develop an appreciation of and interest in the power of words to convey particular ideas, feelings, and images (word consciousness) through an exploration of free-verse poetry, dance, and prosody.
The Goal is to design a compelling and consistent learning program regarding two key student populations: (1) Students with special needs: It has been demonstrated that the capacity of teaching artists and partner classroom teachers to adapt teaching methodology in order to provide greater frequency for all students to participate in an activity in the same room at the same time rather than segmenting students with special needs into individualized or small groups. (2) English Language Learners: By using the arts as literacies in their own right, students introduced to a 21st century literacy style where presentation, storytelling, demonstration, empathy, space/color/design, etc. are all critical tools needed to navigate the ever-present changes in today’s society and today’s workplace.
Young Audiences will collaborate with YACS educators and teaching artists to expand and make permanent arts integration programming in each grade and classroom. Arts for Learning is based on the elements of the How People Learn framework, led by learning scientist Dr. John Bransford from the University of Washington. Arts for Learning is a uniquely-designed program that: focuses on important literacy and arts objectives that align with Common Core State Standards; uses the arts to leverage learning of literacy concepts and skills; and, uses an instructional sequence that helps students become more self-directed/ independent learners.
Young Audiences has designed a multi-tiered approach to professional development that promotes long-term program sustainability. A professional Learning Team, consisting of experienced program staff, classroom teachers, and teaching artists will provide leadership for their peers by presenting case studies, sharing best practices, and providing ongoing mentorship and practical inspiration. Virtual gatherings will include professional learning opportunities to gain greater understanding of the pedagogy, learning science, and arts integration methods comprise the curriculum as well as an opportunity for teachers and teaching artists to share their practice.
Today, Young Audiences is comprised of national networks of 31 affiliate organizations and is the largest arts in education program provider in the nation. Reaching nearly 5,000.000 students annually in suburban, urban, and rural communities across 26 States, Young Audiences draws upon the talent of some 4600 accomplished artists and the participation of over 86000 school based and out of school time educators.
Arts-integrated learning utilizes the arts as a catalyst for learning across the curriculum. In addition to offering a rigorous course of study in specific disciplines (dance, music, théâtre, the visual arts, and new media), the arts are a powerful tool for learning across the curriculum. Young Audiences programs are particularly beneficial for children whose learning deficits are rooted in the inescapable economic disparities of their communities.
This is a moment in time when the arts are positioned to have a significant and permanent influence on the future of education in the United States. Aligning with the key goals of the F.O.R.E Foundation for Arts, Science and Education, this initiative will increase academic achievement and affordable educational options for young people. Thanks to the grants awarded to Young Audiences, the expansion and continuation of the Arts for Learning Curriculum will help numerous students to have a successful and brighter future.
GUEST EDITOR Ali Cabanzo